A walk through sprawling Bristol. My aim was to try and walk
as far North as The Mall shopping Centre (the group of white buildings above
and slightly to the right of the furthest north point of my walk). I got
tantalisingly close, but in the end was defeated by a combination of a locked
gate, a grumpy caravan owner, and the extreme heat of the day. I did get to
Filton airstrip, now defunct but still a huge mark on the map of Bristol.
My first timer went off as I walked down a cut through between houses – high brick wall on one side, a fence on the other. The only spot of colour, a ‘danger of death’ sign on an electricity transformer box, gave me my theme for the rest of the walk – every three minutes I took a photograh that included some element of text:
Old favourites, company names in the frogs of bricks piled high on a demolition site.
Sign in a window ‘These premises are alarmed!’ – by what?
Grafitti – ‘we have to start somewhere’ and ‘no going back’. Signs of the times, but sounding to me like the start of a Margaret Atwood distopia.
‘Look right’ sprayed on the grass at a golf course. A safety
warning, or sartorial instruction?
I spent July and August 2018 travelling around Western
Australia in a camper van with my husband Laurence. I went to indulge my love of rocks and to
revisit the layers and colours I have had stuck in my mind since our last visit
nine years ago. I left feeling saturated
Since we got back I have been struggling to find a way to make work about the landscape we travelled through. The photos I took don’t do justice to the vastness of the landscapes, so how could a print? I didn’t want to make representational work as my brain doesn’t work that way, but more abstract ideas refused to resolve themselves. Several false starts left me disheartened.
In this print I think I have finally found a way to explore my
memories of Australia. By focusing in on
a specific circle within a photo, I am containing part of that vast landscape,
selecting an area to analyse in detail, rather than being overwhelmed by the
whole. The colour of the place becomes
the all-important subject of the print. I
have found a visual language that works to express what I want to say, as well
as being challenging to me as a print maker. I hope this is the start of a
whole new body of work.
Syntax of a Circle
My starting point is a photo taken just before sunset from
the top of a small hill, at Cheela Plains Station camp site, on
the way to Karijini National Park.
I chose a circular section of the photo, and a focal point
within it (the yellow flowers above right of centre). As this had the potential to be a highly
complicated print, I did something I don’t often do, which is to try a mock up
on the computer first, just to check it wasn’t going to be another false start.
To create the computer version, I looked carefully at the colours
within the photo, and in particular, at the colours that touched the circumference
of the circle. I choose the colours that
covered the largest areas of circumference, drew a point where they first and
last touched on the circle, and used the focal point as the third point to draw
a wedge shape. As some of the colours
mixed and intermingled within the photo, I ended up with some wedges overlapping. As my inks would be translucent, these would
create additional colours.
I received positive reactions; I decided to try it in print. I could have started with a simpler image, but where would be the fun in that?
More precise analysing and planning of my layers followed. What amazes me is that I could look as this photo one day and plan one set of colours, then come back the next day and think that I needed something totally different.
Two afternoons of colour mixing and three days of printing later…
The dots down the side show the 24 different ink colours that I used (some were printed more than once).
The only problem now is that because I had no faith in myself or my idea, I only printed five prints, and everyone has a mistake or flaw of some kind. So if I want to have a edition of this print, it means I have to print it all over again. But actually I think this is no bad thing. I was quite seduced by how the print looked when I had printed about 5 colours. It was very calm and quite minimal, the temptation was to leave it as it was, but then I wouldn’t have known if my idea was worth pursuing. So the fact that the prints had flaws from the very beginning meant that I was less precious about them, I felt that it was OK to keep going to the very end, that if I ruined them by putting a bad colour on it would be justified as they were only a proof of concept. And it worked, and I am happy, and it is OK to print 30 layers all over again, I just hope I don’t run out of any of my colours.